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Apr 14 2014

At last! Council Publishes the Akhtar Decision Notice

husain_akhtar1It’s taken a while, but the Council has now published its findings on Cllr Husain Akhtar’s recent code of conduct breaches.

The disgraced councillor failed to attend his hearing to defend himself, and has not responded to our requests for comment.

Hearing Working Group – 2nd April 2014 – Decision Notice

Harrow Council’s Hearing Working Group sat on 2nd April to look at 2 complaints that Councillor Akhtar had breached the Councillor Code of Conduct.

Complaint 1

The Hearing Working Group heard a complaint against Councillor Akhtar made by Councillor Silver and Councillor Wealthy. The complaint that was investigated was that Councillor Akhtar had involvement with Harrow Council For Justice (HCFJ) that had not been declared on his register of interests. The Working Group found that there was evidence that:

  • Councillor Akhtar allowed Members of the HCFJ to use his personal computer and the office within his home as explained on his amended Declaration of Interests dated August 2013;
  • Councillor Akhtar continued to be the web registrar for HCFJ until October 2011;
  • 2 emails dated 27/7/13 and 30/7/13 one from HCFJ and one from Councillor Akhtar appeared to come from the same computer;
  • Text in an email dated 15/1/13 from Councillor Akhtar to officers was almost identical to the content in the public statement from HCFJ of 27/5/13;
  • Councillor Akhtar had explained to officers in writing on 2/6/13 that he had resigned from HCFJ in 2010 and had no further involvement with them. 

Given the above findings the Working Group found on a balance of probabilities that Councillor Akhtar was involved and had connections with HCFJ that he had not declared on his register of interests and that he had not been clear to Officers, Members and the public about his involvement or connection.

The Working Group found that this amounted to a breach of paragraph 5 of the Councillors’ Code of Conduct in that he conducted himself in such a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing his office into disrepute.

The Working Group further found that the evidence before them indicated that he acted contrary to the General Principles of Conduct in the Code:

  • Honesty and Integrity: Members should not place themselves in situations where their honesty and integrity may be questioned.
  • Personal Integrity: That he showed lack of personal judgement by not being clear with Members and Officers.
  • Leadership: members should promote and support these principles by leadership and by example and should act in a way that secures or preserves public confidence.

The Working Group found that by not being clear about his involvement with HCFJ he had not shown clear leadership.

Sanction

The Working Group panel concluded that he should be censured for these breaches of the Code of Conduct and that a notice should be placed on the Council’s website to this effect and in a local newspaper. The Working Group was also concerned about the security of Council data. Although it did not have enough information to make a finding on this point the Working Group recommended that Councillor Akhtar be offered training on data security.

Complaint 2

Councillor Khalid complained that a string of emails about her had been published by HCFJ but uploaded from Councillor Akhtar’s personal computer. Councillor Akhtar denied in a letter of 22/8/13 that he uploaded Councillor Khalid’s images. The Working Group found that the message with the emails attached was one of two emails
sent from the same computer on 27/7/13 and 30/7/13. The second email was sent to Mr Boakes from Councillor Akhtar. They concluded on the balance of probabilities that as the second email was a personal email that it had been sent from a computer in Councillor Akhtar’s home and that it was sent by Councillor Akhtar.

The Working Group found that either Councillor Akhtar had sent the email with the pictures or he ought to have taken more care and responsibility for the computer within his home. He placed himself in a situation where his integrity and honesty have been brought into question by permitting HCFJ to use his home computer.

They found that Councillor Akhtar had acted in his capacity as a Councillor as the actions were in their view politically motivated and a continuation of Council business. The comments with the pictures were about the Council such as “Interesting to find some modelling talent at the civic centre: happy modelling Councillor Zarina Khalid” and “Civic Centre is not all that boring”.

The Working Group found that taken together the photographs and the comments amounted to bullying and harassment, and breaches of the following paragraphs of the Code of Conduct:

  • (3) (1) You must treat others with respect,
  • (3) (2) (b) You must not bully any person, and
  • (5) You must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or the Council into disrepute.

In addition the Working Group found that Councillor Akhtar acted contrary to one of the general principles in the Code in that you showed a lack of personal judgement in allowing the use of his home computer by HCFJ.

Sanction

The Working Group concluded that he should be censured for the above breaches and that a notice should be placed on the website and in a local newspaper to this effect.  

The Monitoring Officer concurs with their conclusions.

You can read the full details here on the Council’s website.

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1 comment

  1. Harrow Dude

    I am not supporter of Mr Akhtar and I know it’s Good Friday but something smells a bit fishy.
    My understanding is this.
    George Curran the investigating officer said in his report “Based on the information contained in the report I am of the opinion the complaint against Councillor Akhtar is not substantiated”

    So can someone please explain to me how the Working Group unanimously agreed that he
    had breached the code of conduct

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